Friday, August 17, 2007 is a date that lives in infamy. Seventy-five-year-old MonaShaw of Bristow, Virginia, a retired AirForce nurse, Sunday School teacher, and secretary of her local square dancing club, walked into her local Comcast office. After two long, frustrating weeks dealing with Comcast Customer Service, Mona wasn’t exactly feeling Com-castic. After the cable and phone provider not only failed to deliver on a promise of a ComcastTriplePlay, they also completely disconnected her service. On this visit, Mona brought her husband Don’s claw hammer into the office where she proceeded to get Com-smash-tic. After waiting two hours to speak to a manager, she busted up a Customer Service Rep’s phone and computer. Mona was arrested, charged with a misdemeanor, and released on her own recognizance. A few months later, the judge suspended her three-month sentence and Mona paid a measly $345 restitution. Apparently, the judge was a Comcast customer as well.
I have often said there are only three kinds of brands.
- Brands you know and love. (Apple)
- Brands you know and don’t love. (Comcast)
- Brands you’ve never heard of. (XYZ Plumbing of Mechanicsville)
I am often asked by business owners if they think that rebranding would help. If you’re a #1 brand, there is no need to rebrand. If you’re a #2 brand, then the answer is yes. If you’re a #3 brand, the answer is maybe.
There is a reason why Comcast had to rebrand as Xfinity — and that reason was Mona Shaw. If your company culture and customer service are so undeniably and universally despised that it turns docile septuagenarians into hammer-wielding gangsters and inspires the creation of websites like comcastmustdie.com, maybe it’s time to change your name, your logo, and give your entire brand a makeover.
If you’re a company like Apple, it makes no sense to rebrand. Yet, it happens all the time. BB&T Bank and SunTrust Bank had good brands going into their merger of equals, but apparently, insiders couldn’t figure out which brand they wanted to use so they paid a lot of money to brand consultants and an ad agency to become TruistBank. The sixth-largest bank in the U.S. now has the sixth-worst name in the history of brands.
If you are an emerging company, the question of whether to rebrand is a little trickier. Most emerging companies (i.e. #3 brands) have good reputations but low brand awareness. The solution isn’t necessarily creating a new brand that no one has ever heard of. In many cases, you can solve a brand awareness issue without having to change signage, business cards, and all the other creative collateral.
In fact, half of the companies that come to us wanting to rebrand end up keeping their original brand, after listening to our advice. Imagine that. We do the research and we give them an honest assessment, even if that means less work and less money for us. #BoldBrandsWin